Upon assuming power in May, the United Kingdom’s historic coalition government set in motion three exercises that together aimed to reshape British foreign policy. Taken together, the new National Security Strategy (NSS), the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), seek to lay down the bounds of Britain’s future role in the world, to articulate Britain’s national interests, establish the goals of policy and set the means by which to achieve them. But the review bought criticism that the government's inability to ‘think strategically’ was fundamentally undermining the process of reviewing the UK’s national strategy.
This report is conceived as an attempt to address this perceived failing. The contributors here – all with long and distinguished careers in British foreign policy – were asked to consider Britain’s role in the world in the broadest sense, to identify our core interests and the most appropriate capacities to secure them, and to do so in recognition of the reality of the resource constraints that are coming to define this period in British political history. Doing so in light of the government’s proposals serves to shine a light on whether the result of this review process represents a coherent and appropriate refocusing of British strategy that reflects the world as it is, and is realistic about the United Kingdom’s place in it.
Contributors: Robert Cooper; Sir Mark Allen; Sir Rodric Braithwaite; Sir Jeremy Greenstock; Sir Richard Mottram; Lord Charles Powell; Sir Malcolm Rifkind